The annual statistics report from the Labor Department said union members represented just 6.4 percent of the private-sector workforce, compared with 34.4 percent of public-sector workers.
And in some Southern states, the number of workers in a union dropped below 5 percent. Just seven states - Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and OH were the others - accounted for more than half the union rolls, the BLS said. That amounted to 7.1 million union members in the public sector, and 7.4 million union members in the private sector. "Some have argued that these "bloated" union jobs made (U.S.) manufacturing uncompetitive, and there is some truth to that".
In Idaho, union members were estimated at 6.1 percent of the workforce in 2016, and in Montana, they were 11.9 percent.
Union membership in the USA has reached its lowest point since the federal government began keeping union statistics in 1983.
The stark decline in labor union membership was felt most acutely in the private sector.
The Michigan decrease was part of a 0.4% drop in national union membership that saw the number of labor-affiliated workers in the USA drop from more than 14.8 million in 2015 to 14.6 million in 2016. A Rasmussen poll conducted before the election shows that only 20 percent of Americans see labor leaders as "do [ing] a good job representing union members".
Some companies that once employed thousands of union workers are opting to locate new production and manufacturing facilities in right-to-work states. However, one reason could be the expansion of so-called "Right to Work" laws in several states which allow employees to not be compelled to join a union even if their workplace is unionized. Just more than 40 percent of local government employees are members of unions, the BLS reported, the highest rate of any industry segment. Union membership was lowest in SC, where just over 1 percent of workers were union members.
The lowest percentages of union membership were found in finance; agriculture and related industries; food service; and professional and technical services.